New Ind. court aims to 'break the cycle' of incarceration

The new specialized court says the program could break the cycle of repeat offenders


Aprile Rickert
The Evening News and The Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.

CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — Those in charge of a new specialized court in Clark County say the program could break the cycle of abuse with certain repeat offenders and set them on the path to healthier and more productive lives.

The Clark County Addiction Treatment and Support Program opened its doors in mid-December with preliminary certification under the leadership of Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Andrew Adams.

While Clark County already has two other specialty courts — one for veterans with addiction issues and one for families dealing with substance abuse — this would be the first to address those who have been slipping through the cracks. Adams hopes this court can help those in active addiction or with mental health issues who are on probation to keep from returning.

"I think we recognize the problem and we do a lot to implement things," he said, adding that such a program can't work unless "you get them on treatment as well as support after the fact. A lot of times if we release them on probation, they go right back to the same environment they were in."

He said prosecutors and police often say they see the same people reoffending, "but on the same note, if we don't change how we're treating them or how we're handling the cases, they're not going to change," he said.

HOW IT WORKS

The program is designed to help men and women who find themselves in a revolving door of incarceration or arrests get the support and tools to break out of it.

Among the assistance available are tools for sober living, finding jobs and housing, getting help with anger management or addiction and other types of counseling.

Potential candidates for the CCATS program could be contacted by the court — if a person has a charge that could be helped by the program, they're contacted as soon as possible to determine if they are interested and a good fit. They also may be referred by friends, family or other treatment venues, or apply on their own initiative.

After the initial contact, program coordinator Josh Seybold talks with the individual, with providers and others involved to see if the program could benefit them.

"What's so crucial to this model is looking for those treatment providers and specialists to help guide the criminal justice system in making appropriate calls when an individual is ready [and] needing these types of services," Seybold said.

Participation in the new court requires that the person go through an initial long-term inpatient treatment program, which is followed by regular support through the CCATS program to continue their recovery.

The CCATS program does not fund any initial treatments, which may vary. Candidates may receive treatment through a community organization such as LifeSpring or the Healing Place. Candidates also may use Medicare or private insurance to pay for initial treatment.

Male candidates may have the option to go through the Mental Health Addiction Supervision and Treatment Program (MAST), formerly known as the forensic diversion program at the Clark County jail, for the initial treatment before continuing with supervision in the CCATS program.

While MAST, which is funded by the Department of Correction, is not available for women in Clark County, funding and space options are being sought for a similar program.

After this initial phase, participants are then supported as they continue recovery by having regular visits with a case manager, drug and alcohol screens multiple times a week and twice-monthly court sessions lasting from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the needs of the participant. The cost to the participant in CCATS is $20 per month.

The program can serve 25 participants and may be able to serve more after certification is complete. The Indiana Office of Court Services is expected to revisit the new court in six months to ensure that it has maintained its original goals and plans. Adams said additional funding could be sought to grow the court, including federal dollars.

"Any time we can give an opportunity for an inmate or someone that's been arrested to go through a program, the hope is that they get the help they need to not reoffend," said Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel. "And be useful and productive, not just for themselves but for society."

BREAKING THE CYCLE

Often, the new charges that can add up come from probation violations — failing a drug screen or committing other crimes to help feed an addiction, Adams said.

"If you don't receive treatment, about 85 percent of people reoffend," he said.

Similarly, law enforcement officials in Southern Indiana have pointed to numbers at 80 percent or higher of all crimes having addiction as the root.

"We see a drug addict, they're utilizing all their resources upfront," Adams said. "When they run through those, they start borrowing from family, friends ... when the family cuts them off, they start to steal."

He said that could start small, like taking money from people they know, accelerating to shoplifting or burglary.

"Very rarely do we see somebody come across here with a burglary who doesn't have an underlying charge in another court," he said.

But that's exactly what he and others are trying to halt with the new court.

"The key, I think, to treatment and long-term recovery is ... support to find jobs, housing, sober living," Adams said. "And the things they learned in treatment to help them with the daily issues that led them down that path in the first place."

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©2019 The Evening News and The Tribune (Jeffersonville, Ind.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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